With the impact of the recent global COVID -19 outbreak on wine tourism activities, the International Organization of Vine and Wine (OIV) and the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently co-hosted a webinar on wine tourism innovation. Guests from Argentina, Chile, France, Italy, South Africa and other countries shared their experiences in response. The consensus was that the development of local markets, new partnerships and digital transformation are essential to relaunching wine tourism.
Image from: China-Portugal.com
Pau Roca, Director General of the OIV, mentioned that the OIV was created to respond to the crisis. He pointed out that today we are facing different crises, but that the OIV has always been at the heart of responding and providing solutions, developing the vineyard economy and promoting the trade in the grape bureau. He argued that the appeal of wine tourism is based on three key factors: diversity, rural areas and very strong cultural ties.
Zurab Pololikashvili, Secretary General of the World Tourism Organization, mentioned that gastronomy and wine tourism are important pillars of tourism development in rural areas. He emphasized the important role of wine in rural tourism and pointed out that all UNWTO member states play a fundamental role in supporting rural tourism.
Mariette de Toit-Helmbold from South Africa pointed out that it is imperative to relaunch tourism in a responsive way and to develop it with a focus on local and sustainable tourism. Health and safety is the priority, followed by cooperation between sectors and regions, focusing on local markets and local people, which are the greatest assets of wine tourism.
Roberta Garibaldi, from the Italian Tourism and Gastronomy Association, mentioned diverse experiences and a greater focus on local culture as two tools to rebuild wine tourism, and in a sustainable and inclusive way.
Lorena Cepparo from Chateau Chardonnay Argentina mentioned that wine tourism is fundamentally an area of human enjoyment and that people want to travel and we must be prepared!
Speaking on behalf of the Great Wine Capitals Global Network, Catherine Leparmentier Dayot mentioned that the summer of 2020 in France has seen a fundamental change in the origin of visitors, mostly nationalities. People prefer small local events to large infrastructures, the countryside to cities and the outdoors to the indoors. These trends that emerged this year can significantly boost wine tourism.
Image from: China-Portugal.com
Today wine tourism can be considered an art of living, but there are still major difficulties, such as the decline in the number of visitors. For the Bordeaux region, the majority of visitors are foreigners. For domestic tourism, developing the local market is really the main challenge for Bordeaux, so it is more hopeful that international travel will restart soon. As a solution, she pointed out that innovation is not just a survival mechanism and that winegrowers need to incorporate it into their future plans.
Irene Gimeno of Enoturismo Chile, a Chilean wine tourism agency, mentioned that Chile"s wine tourism industry has been hit twice, once by the protests and demonstrations last October, followed by the COVID-19 outbreak. The Chilean situation shows the importance of cooperation between the private sector and the public sector, such as the government. Together, a strategy was developed to move from containment, to adaptation, to reactivation, focusing first on health care and wellness, and then on new tools of choice for companies, such as webinars, digitalization, and knowledge transfer. During the adaptation phase, communication and marketing play a key role. enoturismo Chile sees this as an opportunity for wine tourism.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, digital is an asset. Roberta Garibaldi stressed the importance of data collection for effective and potential visitors, which includes not only traditional customers but also those online, such as websites, social media, etc. By tracking these users, a more creative and efficient service can be provided.
But with the increase in digital activity, Roberta cautions that there is a need to adapt specialized devices, tools that help enhance interaction with visitors. But don't forget to bring a human touch to technology through good storytelling.